My trip to Germany to take part in the Bundesliga race of HC category in Albstadt, Germany:
Waking up aching, nose running, eyes hurting, throat raw, lungs covered in slime. Spending day on the sofa feeling crap, sipping lemsip. Going for a ride in the evening, 10m sight up on Sally Gap, misty, windy, cold. Trying to do some efforts, failing. Getting cold, putting on all my clothes I have with me, feeling worse for wear afterward, waiting for another lemsip to kick in. Deciding I'll go to Germany anyway, frantic last minute bike packing.
Arriving at airport, downing another lemsip, meeting Cait at gate. Flight boring, arriving to 33 degrees and sunshine in Memmingen Airport in Germany. Lemsip wearing off. Airport wants 2 Euro 20 for hot water. Deciding I can deal with headache. Picking up rental car - got an upgrade, instead of a VW Polo, they gave me a Mercedes Benz Viano (wohoo!), automatic, with SatNav, Aircon and big enough that our huge bike bags feel lonely inside. Driving small roads towards Albstadt, pit stop for a pretzel and another lemsip.
Arriving at race place in early evening, temperature perfect for a bike ride. Building up bikes. Nose still running and sneezing still present. Local riding groups are meeting up and going for a spin, including about a 10 people strong female group. Meeting some other Elite riders out for a ride. Weather fantastic, ground bone dry. We catch a ride with some of the local organizers who show us the trail. First impression: easy course. Grass field start, very steep fireroad climb followed by very steep but fun and bermy descent, more fireroad climb, then the boring bit: 1km flat traverse on easy single track through wood, turn around, 1km flat traverse back on easy singletrack parallel to previous one. Finally some really fun and curvy descent and a bit more single track back to the finish. Climbs are too steep for my taste and height is lost too quickly on the steep descents - that's European mainland race courses for you. Loathing that first climb, loving that last descent. Bit more cycling about, then calling it a day as lemsip has worn off again. Cait got a pinch flat.
Shopping for dinner in Lidl, driving to cost-effective guesthouse in neighbouring village. Enjoying a shandy and makeshift dinner with plastic cutlery in beautiful evening warmth and peace. Another lemsip and time for bed.
Feeling better in the morning. Still hot and sunny here, 28 degrees. Driving to Albstadt looking for somewhere to eat breakfast. Walking around market, amazed at the percentage of old people in Germany (median age in Germany = 44 years, 35 years in Ireland). Having breakfast and yet another lemsip. Today is high intensity day for me, so going straight to race course before lemsip wears off. Choosing the steep climb at the start as place for my drills. Warm-up, 2x3min, 2x2min, legs and lungs are screaming. Telling myself that pain now will mean less pain later. Using climb 2 and 3 for 2x1min efforts. Heart rate not too bad considering, but not going up as much as I would like to. Sessioning descents.
Real Italian homemade icecream for recovery food. Buying bikini and towel in pound shop, going to Albstadt's naturbad - a man-made swimming pool/lake. Soaking up the sun, working on getting rid of tan-lines (and adding new ones), eating strawberries and reading books, relaxing. Great taste of the pro-racer life-style. Time for dinner in the guesthouse, another picnic and shandy. No lemsip required this time.
Eating cereal with plastic spoons out of tooth brushing glasses. Driving to course. Legs heavy and leady. Thank god for recovery days. Riding another lap of the bone dry course, tootling around and watching the marathon racers go off. German championship for doctors and pharmacists. Walking around the trade and food stands, talking to people, mingling, buying more food in bigger shop. Meeting Mike, Cait's mechanic. Driving to guesthouse, shower, change. Driving back to Albstadt, hanging out with Mike, watching Gerd Rube sing "Hotel California" at the race place. People milling about drinking beer in the setting sun. Driving back, having another picnic dinner, no shandy this time, "Apfelschorle" instead (a mix drink of apple juice and fizzy water). Preparing bottles, pinning on number. Watching some WWII documentary. Sleeping.
Race day. Waking up to clouds and rain. Has been raining all night long. Feeling good enough after the cold. Driving over. Warming up. Mizzle starting again. Going to the bathroom, going again, and again. Locating and placing myself into holding pens. Call up. Cait is called. I am not. Maybe my name is not on the list? I am being called up absolutely last of thirty-something women. WHAT??? I am gesturing Cait and Mike. Asking the commissaire, he's only shrugging. Nothing I can do now. 1min to go. 30sec to go. Anytime within the next 15sec... Whistle is blown, we are off. Trying to ride around the girls work up my way from last position, avoiding a pile up. Hitting the fireroad, overtaking difficult. Girls riding in 2 lines. Singlefile then at the first single-track descent. Girls sliding all over the place. We are walking/scrambling. It's very slippery. Trying to walk down the next descent, girls sliding into me. Me sliding down the trail head first, cutting open both knees. Covered in mud head-to-toe, blood seeping through where knees are. Back onto the bike, biting teeth together, pushing on. Sliding everywhere, even on the flat bits. Sliding out of corner on the flat. Sliding down the tricky descent. Taking back everything I said about the course being easy. Lap 1 done. Climbing up the steep climb in lap 2. Loudspeakers and hundreds of spectators on the climbs make it more bearable. Catching some people. Music to get you into the groove. Rattles to make you go faster. Accumulating gunk everywhere. Hard to clip in pedals. Tires slick. Descending faster when sliding on bum. Lap 3, Cait still in front, but in sight. Making up a few more places on the climb, loosing a few. No idea what position I'm in. People having mechanicals. Sliding everywhere. Lap 4. I can see Cait closer now. Getting her on the flat bit. Making a mess of the descent again. Sliding down off my bike. Shoe opens, too mucky to close it again. Chain down and stuck. Stopping and yanking at it. Loosing places. Freeing it. Back onto the bike. Mona Eiberweiser behind me now - must have had a mechanical. Riding with her through finish - hoping to be pulled, but no, we have to go on. Mona pulls away on the climb. Last time up, wohoo! Legs are screaming and cramping. Kajsa coming up behind me. She gets me on the 2nd last climb, I have to let her go. Last descent, only downhill from now on. PANG! Rear wheel exploded, side wall gash! Gas doesn't help, goes straight out. Put in tube or run to finish? Only downhill left really. Deciding to run. I run. Thank god for recent running training. Not being too much slower than cycling. Loosing another place or two on the flats. Reaching last grassy loop. Riding on the flat tire. Flippin slog! Arriving at finish. Collapsing.
Bikewash queue too long, cleaning bikes in river. Cleaning ourselves in river. Cleaning knees in river. Having shower. Getting lots of stares because of cut knees. Packing bikes. Packing car. Driving to airport. Flight delayed. Watching 1st half of Germany vs. Australia. Flight boring. Home at midnight.
Results found here.
Melanie: 19th place
Cait: 21st place
Thanks to superb feedzone and tech support from Cait's team mechanic, Mike from the WXC racing team. I'll be checking the gridding beforehand next time. Being German with an Irish license seems to confuse people. Knees still leaking, but getting better. Looking forward to the next race :)